Why Thank You Everything

When I started this blog in 2009, we were living in Arizona, my son had just been born, and I was looking for a way to warm up before writing my paying gigs. I was watching a lot of news, and it was depressing, and sometimes terrifying. It’s almost 2016 and things are just as bleak as they were when Thank You Everything started.

I haven’t been diligent writing here over the past few years, but each time I do the response is wonderful. Thank You Everything was started to help me (and, I hoped, others) express gratitude and appreciation for what surrounds us. Whether it is the amNewYork paper people at the subway stops at Bryant Park or West 81st Street, the random blue jay that doesn’t fly away as I get closer, or even the silence and stillness of an apartment when my family is asleep. These people, things, and moments need to be cherished.

As we enter 2016, it’s easy to get swallowed up by the hate, fear-mongering, and violence that surrounds us. Saying thank you for every thing, every being, every moment, every thought, every belief, is more important than ever if we don’t want to live in a world of fear and destruction. I am a big believer in the philosophy that the energy you send out into the world is the energy you receive, and that every action has a consequence. During this coming year, please join me in sending out kindness, understanding, and gratitude to all. Hopefully, the good vibes will prevail.

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Why Thank You Everything

My Yoga Mat, My Island

The alarm goes off at 5:15 am. It is dark, it is cold, but I wiggle out of bed anyway. In the blackness, I grab my clothes and head to the bathroom to get dressed. Afterward I will make my way to the door, grabbing my yoga mat and coat on the way. I always take the mat. Clutching it, I make my way to the yoga studio near my apartment.

Starting my days on my yoga mat insures I will breathe today. Deep inhales and exhales through the nose, the air tumbling through the small space in my nasal cavity before it makes its way into my lungs. The rhythm and fluidity of these breaths reflect how I am doing, whether my body feels good or is in pain, or whether my mind is betraying or benefitting me.

This hour allows me the luxury of just breathing, not thinking. So rarely do I focus on the moment at hand — mindfulness — instead allowing my mind to wander to all the other things in life. My yoga mat, which has been with me for at least a decade, is my island, allowing me the solitude to just focus on my body using my breathing as my guide.

My Yoga Mat, My Island

The Jealousy List: What I Wish I Wrote

As a writer there are always stories that you wish you wrote and topics that you uncovered. There are too many characters, events, and viewpoints to discuss, and never enough time in the day to give them all the attention that they deserve — at least for one person.

Luckily, the world is full of many talented (and brave) journalists and writers so those stories can be told. Below is a list, honestly just a sample, of some of the articles that I came across in 2015 that I wish I had written. If you have stories that you wish you penned, please let me know in the comments section.

Go Ahead, Let Yourself Go — Details 

Even though this article was written in 2007 for the now-defunct Details magazine, I just discovered it this year. It’s a wonderful commentary about what happens to men when they don’t care about their appearance any longer. Considering that I write A LOT of fitness, nutrition and weight loss articles, I love the idea about talking about being sedentary, gaining weight, and just not giving a damn.

The Stories of the Six Men Who Caught the Cubs’ Historic Home Run Balls — Yahoo Sports

Wrigley Field is the first place that I saw a baseball game and I have been a lifelong Cubs fan ever since. From the lede paragraph to the each man’s tale, this article is crafted so well to interlace the bleachers, the moment, and the man. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, this story is an entertaining read.

Unexpected Honey Study Shows Woes of Nutrition Research — New York Times 

Nutrition is such a hot-bed topic and it is a tricky one to report on. This article explains why that is: nutrition research is flawed. This no-nonsense approach explaining the why we shouldn’t believe all the nutrition headlines we read.

Read Before You Speak — Los Angeles Times

When two college students refused to read the assigned curriculum, David Ulin took to his keyboard to explain why it is important to read (and be exposed to) different viewpoints, characters, and situations that may not make you comfortable. I remember reading Black Boy by Richard Wright and The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren while in school. They were sometimes difficult to read because of their depictions of violence (Black Boy) and homosexuality (The Front Runner), but over 20 years later they are memorable. They helped me understand viewpoints that are very different than my own.

The Fight Over Plastic Bags is About a Lot More Then How You Get Your Groceries Home — New York 

Consider this: a plastic bag is manufactured to be used for 12 minutes. Millions of dollars are spent to dispose of them. These are just two of the staggering numbers reported in this article. This article is a bit New York centric but it is interesting and written with humor.

Thank you for reading and please share your Jealousy List.

The Jealousy List: What I Wish I Wrote

Early Intervention for Who?

Doing our best to keep this behind us. Photo by tswicegood

Here’s the best kept secret that only parents of kids who are taking their time talking and developing know about: Early Intervention Programs. Here’s the skinny: after evaluating  whether your toddler is developing normally in the areas of speech, motor skills, cognitive and emotional functioning, sensory perceptions and a host of other things, states may help kids catch up in said areas  (read: therapy). I never knew about this until I had a kid. Now, I’m knee deep in the process.

When we live in Los Angeles, A. qualified for California’s equivalent after four evaluations done by a social worker, occupational therapist, sensory occupational therapist and a speech pathologist. After our one at-home evaluation, he qualified for New Jersey’s program.

But after going through this process twice, I wonder who is the early intervention for: him or me? I seem to walk away from these sessions thinking that I am the bad mother and that I have failed as my son’s first teacher. I know it isn’t entirely true but for a woman who is pretty hard on herself it’s hard not to think that it is. This intervention says: Stop your bad parenting!

I do what all the parenting mags advise. But I also know that he drinks more milk than he should (I’m as guilty as Katie Holmes for letting him continue to use a bottle); that he watches more television than he should; and that he rather play cars than sit and have me read to him. Will I continue to try and wean him from the bottle, play with him outside and read to his wiggly body? Of course! But I’m still happy I have a little help for him (and me) make up developmental ground.

Early Intervention for Who?

The Third State is the Charm

It’s been over a month since I blogged, but don’t think  I haven’t been thankful for anything— actually it’s quite the opposite. Instead of giving you the gory details, here’s the Cliff Notes version (do they even publish those anymore?).

It started with a crazy idea. If you have been reading this blog for awhile you know that M. and I come up with these wild plans, then act on them. This one wasn’t so wild: Change our job search from Chicago to the Greater New York Area.

Then a job materialized. M. mentioned our intentions to a colleague and a job appeared. Literally two weeks after we agreed to the plan, he was offered an exciting job where the pay was right.

And then a place to live came available. My good friend ML had lined up a renter for her townhouse in the suburbs and that renter fell through just as M.’s offer came in. It was perfect for us, close to the city and the job. Plus, what parent can say no to having a playground 100 feet from their front door? Already a better life for A. was shaping up.

Baby A and I saying good-bye to the bench.

Here was the hard part. I packed and said good-bye to an area that I had lived in for most of my life in a matter of two weeks. Friends and family were the most difficult to bid adieu to even though I know I will see them again. But visiting my dad’s memorial was much harder than I expected. Overlooking the Seal Beach pier made me remember talking to my dad about events and decisions that were important during my high school and college years. After his passing, going to the bench we have in his honor allowed me to think freely about divorce, job opportunities, and new relationships. I will miss it the most.

Traveling cross country with two cats and a toddler. M and I packed everyone up in our car and drove from LA to New Jersey. My FIL drove the moving truck. (A huge amount of gratitude goes to him.) Everyone did great despite spending over 14 hours in the car for three days. We were lucky to have hosts in Denver and Illinois that allowed us to stay for two nights and one day so that kitties and Baby A could run around.

East coast, Baby! Everyone has been super friendly. ML has hooked us up with our neighbors and other friends. Baby A can’t get enough of the playground, pool or just walking around the area. So far so good.

For years I have wanted to make this move and now I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. In two years and three states, it’s nice to finally feel like we’re home.

The Third State is the Charm

This Monday Night is All Right

We have been lucky enough to have M.’s dad stay with us. He’s fabulous with Baby A. And in addition, he generous of his time, which allows me to get some work done. He also goes to bed early.

We live in a two-bedroom apartment and so our guest room is our living room. When grandpa goes to bed, M., Moo, Pumpkin and I retreat to the master bedroom. (A is sleeping in his room, of course.) While M. misses the DVR and television (only one, located in living/guest room), I enjoy times like right now. M. is reading, I’m writing and we are surrounded by cuddling kitties. Not a bad way to end the first day of the week.

This Monday Night is All Right

An Office Everywhere

It was too quiet in my friend ML’s house. After spending two days in Manhattan, the silence of her neighborhood was almost unsettling. I needed to hear conversations, music…many things at one time. I needed to find a Starbucks.

Luckily, there is one close to her house even though I took the long way to get there. Any coffee house would have done, but when I go into Starbucks it is familiar with electrical outlets, music, and food. Just like going to an office…anywhere you are.

An Office Everywhere